This week was pretty crazy! We have many wonderful people who we are working with and having great experiences with and are trying hard to bring them to the gates of their conversion.
On Tuesday, we were supposed to meet an investigator early in the day for a lesson. She is usually home without any other male adult so we always have to make sure that a male adult member goes with us so that we can teach her in her home. On this particular day, we were not able to find ANYONE to come with us. We called about everyone we could think of beforehand and it turned out no one could come on a Tuesday at 11:00 am.
Then I remember something my Mission President had told me when explaining this rule, "...If you ever get in a bind- call me!" So I texted him and asked if he would like to come.
As it turned out, he was going to be in the area meeting with a Stake President about an hour after so he agreed to come with us. We all show up at the appointed time and go knock on the door. No answer. We ring the doorbell. No answer. We call her on the phone. Still no answer.
Thankfully, we had a few backup plans. The Atoigue's were the direct nextdoor neighbors so we went and knocked on the door. A little nervous that Brother Atoigue would be working as he usually is, we were very surprised when he opened the door with his long, flowing hair and the usual spatula in hand. He invited us in and we were able to go have a great conversation with him and CJ (The youngest son) who was sleeping on the couch.
President Pingree got to know him and it seemed like they hit it off. Elder Jimenez and I had been trying to catch Ernest alone for a couple weeks because we wanted to talk with him seriously about baptism. He has been reading (He is near halfway done with the Book of Mormon now), he has faithfully come to Church every week, and his testimony and conviction is growing! We want him to take the next step but know that for some reason he is hesitant about it. This was the time and we talked with him as seriously as we could about baptism. It made him uncomfortable, but he agreed to prepare to be baptized on December the 1st.
Upon leaving, President Pingree was very excited and left us with the usual hug to go off to his meeting. Pretty cool!
But the highlight experience of this week, in my mind, is the Chinese Miracle.
Due to many cancellations and slightly annoying fall-through appointments, Elder Jimenez ended up working through the evening. Randomly, we stop by a less-active man named Jamie Lozano. Jamie is a man in his 40's with a large home, no wife, and is as friendly as Brother Wilkerson on a pig farm! (I would assume.) He is a workaholic, but happened to be home. We sat down with him and asked him what he was up to. "Well, I was actually just about to get a bite to eat." he said, "Have you two eaten?" We told him that we had not.
And next thing we knew, we were all in his super sized truck heading to get some Chinese.
We had a fantastic time with Brother Lozano and we were able to get to know him. He told us of his hobbies, likes, dislikes, passions, life, and even his conversion. We asked him, with mouths full of sesame chicken and rice, if he would like to come back to Church. He told us he would be very interested in that.
After dinner, there was a new light in his eyes and he thanked us for spending that time with him.
Two things learned here- First, anything can be accomplished over some great Chinese; and second, a big part of this rescue effort is TIME. Giving some of our TIME to those who are wandering in strange and forbidden paths allows for mighty miracles to occur. When they are with you, they will feel the Gospel light within you! They will feel and see the evidence of God's love working THROUGH YOU to brighten their lives.
Full-time missionaries are horrible friends. By going out of your way to spend time with others (AKA being a true friend) you can bring them something that missionaries really can't. When they have your friendship, then the missionaries can come do for them, at your invitation, what they are set apart to do- preach the Gospel!
As I wrote a few weeks ago, we can soften the hearts of our associates by being friends so that the Holy Ghost can carry His message INTO their hearts. To get a little more practical, we can do this by sacrificing our time for others; being instruments in God's hands in conveying His love for them. This is one way we can stretch our own souls (so to speak), and reach a rescuing hand to those who feel lost and forgotten.
I love each of you and hope you have some great experiences and miracles giving your time to others who desperately need it!